I am an athlete, although I can’t throw a football for more than 10 yards, and my dunking skills leave a lot to be desired. The similarities, however, between myself and the professional ball players is uncanny when you stop and think about it…
I’m here to discuss the similarities between my sport and the sports that are more commonly accepted by the general public.
Football requires that the athletes condition and train day in and day out for the physical requirements of their sport. They must know the drills and catch the ball when it’s thrown in their direction. They need to block the opposing players entire body force when it’s in the way, and they have to do all of this with their heavy padding on to protect their bodies.
My sport requires that I climb up mountainsides with a heavy pack on my back. I need to know the terrain, the flora and fauna, and what to do in case of an emergency. I must set up camp with what little supplies I have, and I need to shoot straight every time. Even when my body is telling me to rest, I must keep going. My sport requires that I know the drill, and that I have the physical strength to pack in light and pack out heavy. My uniform is usually torn from the rocks and tree limbs, and although I don’t wear shoulder pads, my rifle has padding on the shoulder strap for comfort during the hike.
Baseball requires that the players have excellent hand-eye coordination. They need to know everything about their opposing team, and what to do in any situation depending on where the small white ball is at on the field. They need to run fast, dive into the dirt, and instantly recognize the swing of the bat and the sound of the ball hitting wood.
My sport requires that I have controlled breathing and a steady trigger finger. I need to know the movement of my prey and what each of their steps mean to my game plan. I’m required to run fast across uneven terrain, slide beneath barbed wire fences, control the direction and protection of my weapon, and sometimes fall into position within an instant to get the winning shot. If my eyes are blurry from the heat, or my palms are sweaty from the adrenaline, then I may lose that one moment of opportunity.
In basketball the teams must work together to get the ball in the net. The individual players have a job on the court, and they each know their place. They run back and forth while keeping their eyes on every other player simultaneously. They need to catch the ball and pass it to their teammates. They know that one small mistake can ruin the game, and they know that all eyes are on them during that one moment of glory when the ball hits their hands.
My sport requires that I work with my team also. We each have a place on our court. We have a job to do as individuals, and our success is dependent on our teammates successes also. We keep our eyes on each other in the field, and we know where the others are positioned at all times. My sport requires that I know which knot to use for which type of fishing line and species. I’m required to wade through strong current waters with my pack on my shoulders and my hands full of tools. My sport requires that I recognize the species of fish beneath the water and what is required to either capture them for food, or release them without harm. One mistake could ruin the game for me also. All eyes are watching closely, and my moment of glory rests on knowing that this is my championship game.
In my sport, we aren’t typically paid millions of dollars per year to perfect our athleticism. We don’t have an off season or a training camp. The crowd doesn’t go wild when we achieve our goal in the field, but the roar of the stream or the bugle of the elk is our applause. The trees are our audience, and the birds are the witnesses. The moon is our stadium lighting and the guides are our cheerleaders.
We are athletes, and this is our sport.
Fortunately, we have a team of millions. Hunters, fishermen, conservationists, and outdoor enthusiasts are all our teammates. And we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of that team. We should all work together because every day in the field for us is the equivalent of a Super Bowl Playoff Championship World Series. If that’s even a thing…